Government relying on ‘enormously costly’ litigation to deal with serious health issues

Clare Daly claims State ‘enriching legal profession’, failing to make health service safe

The Government has been accused of continued over-reliance on litigation and a failure to address the serious concerns of people whose health has been affected by State actions.

Independent TD Clare Daly made the claim in the Dáil as she highlighted a number of legal cases of "enormous cost and delay".

She said the Government was “causing those people enormous hardship while enriching the legal profession and failing to make our health service safe”.

Two cases related to the use by the Defence Forces of the malarial drug Lariam, while serving on overseas missions.


Ms Daly said that in one case the State “spared no expense” with a major legal team and 10 days of hearings before the Government “threw in the towel”.

A second Lariam case was settled at the steps of the court but she said there were another 300 men and women who have lodged papers with the court on Lariam, “facing a lengthy and costly legal process before the State will eventually have to settle”.

She said it was a “crazy situation” that there was not one word about redress and compensation “to end this madness”.

The Dublin Fingal TD said there were 83 cases with the courts for Pandemrix from children who developed narcolepsy after receiving the swine flu vaccine.

No-fault vaccine scheme

The Taoiseach promised a no-fault vaccine scheme would be introduced by the end of last year to respond to the needs of people with disabilities arising from vaccination, she said. “Where is it?”

And she said the Government was still working on open disclosure but its current approach, though deeply flawed, remained in place.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney replying for the Government, said protecting the health of soldiers was the "only motivation we have on any policy regarding the use of Lariam or other drugs to combat the dangers of malaria".

He said that “families have made certain accusations and they need to be tested”.

Mr Coveney said that a working group reviewed the Defence Forces approach regarding these drugs to ensure procedures continue to be appropriate and in accordance with international best practice.

But Ms Daly said the working group on Lariam recommended in 2017 that a medical advisory group be set up to look at these issues. But she recently found out that “the group has never met, not once” and best practice would say other defence forces were not using Lariam.

She said she had a lot of time for the Tánaiste but his response was “Civil Service speak” and she told him he was listening to civil servants and not his instincts.

Mr Coveney insisted that some countries have moved away from the use of Lariam but others had not.

He said the Government was introducing a patient safety Bill that would require open disclosure and he said he would “follow up on the expert medical group” and respond directly to Ms Daly.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times